First German Car of the Year: NSU Ro 80

NSU Ro, the First German Model Selected as Car of the Year
NSU Ro 80, the First German Model Selected as Car of the Year

Ro means rotary piston and 80 for type designation… These two expressions created a special name: Ro 80. When the NSU Ro 80 was introduced for the first time at the IAA International Auto Show in September 1967, it had a great impact. The visitors of the fair were surprised at first what to appreciate; innovative design, innovative engine or both? The public's great interest and admiration for the model did not reflect on sales, and production of the NSU Ro 80 ended in April 1977. Audi Tradition commemorates this medal and NSU's history.
“A factory that produces a new automobile is zamThe moment one tends to believe that it is the most beautiful, the fastest, the most economical, the most modern, in short, the best car.” With these words, NSU Motorenwerke AG began the introduction of the new model at the 1967 IAA, saying, “We at NSU are proud of our newest model, but we are careful to avoid any expression of superiority. Instead, we express ourselves with an assumption: This is a good and certainly interesting car.” continued as.

The Neckarsulm-based automaker backed up these claims with over 80 pages of information, including plenty of technical data, illustrations, and a description of the working principle of the NSU/Wankel rotary piston engine. He knew that even experts would need a lot of information to explain the new vehicle concept, especially the NSU/Wankel engine. All these contents; He extensively explained the advantages such as lighter and more compact structure, low vibration level and fewer components compared to the traditional piston engine. After five years of development, the Neckarsulm-based company introduced the NSU Ro 1967 to the public in Frankfurt in September 80 as the world's first production car with a double-disc Wankel engine. The visitors of the fair were very impressed, even fascinated.

New standards in technology and aesthetics

The sporty sedan set new standards in handling, safety, comfort and performance. The Ro 80 remained true to the “Form follows function” approach. NSU developed the model in a wind tunnel: It had a flat front, a low, slightly rising sideline and a high rear. Its wedge-shaped body provided a coefficient of friction of 0,35. Compared to his contemporaries, he had a highly innovative appearance. Ro 80 advertising posters reflected exactly these features: “The cars of yesterday, the cars of today and the NSU cars”. In 1971 this claim was formulated with a more universal expression: “One step ahead with technology”. This became the brand motto of Ingolstadt-based Audi, founded by the merger of Auto Union GmbH and NSU Motorenwerke AG in 1969.

The first German model to be named car of the year

The Neckarsulm-based company dared to launch the Ro 80, a car that was revolutionary in many ways, and for that courage won the award. A year after its introduction, international business journalists named the NSU Ro this "Car of the Year". It was the first German car to win this award. However, the car did not find lasting commercial success. When the oil crisis in 1973 increased gasoline prices, customers had to turn to more economical vehicles. This marked the end of the rotary piston engine and hence the NSU Ro 80. The car was produced at the Neckarsulm plant from 1967 to 1977. When the model was discontinued in 1977, production of the Audi 100 had already largely filled the factory's capacity. NSU Ro 80 said goodbye to the bands with a total of 37 thousand 374 units.

Today, the NSU Ro 80 has a loyal fan base, just like the NSU brand. Numerous clubs organize regular meetings, outings and events, reinvigorating the history of the established brand. One of these anniversary events will be 'Fan Day', which will be held on September 16 in Neckarsulm. Audi Tradition organizes the event together with Audi Forum Neckarsulm, Audi Club International and the historical motorcycle and bicycle museum Deutsches Zweirad and NSU Museum Neckarsulm.

Every month until December, Audi Tradition will showcase different NSU models, including brand classics, prototypes and one-of-a-kind models on both two- and four-wheelers.

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